Hurricanes New Look Looks Familiar

The Carolina Hurricanes opened their 2018-19 season Thursday night against the visiting New York Islanders. ‘New’ was the word used to describe the team leading up to the game, but some things were as old as ever. The Hurricanes blasted away at the net much as they did last season, but like last season, they did not score very often. In fact, they only managed one goal.

In one disappointing way, the new-look Hurricanes looked very familiar. “What happened to the scoring machine we saw in the preseason?” was felt and heard rippling through the sellout crowd of 18,680.  While there were new players and coaches, what those fans saw play out before them was not much different than last year’s product.

Fans were hoping that this would be the season the ‘Canes’ absence from the playoffs would end. By the time the closing horn sounded reality has set it and hope was neatly tucked away.

Hurricanes Bombs Away

Many felt that former head coach Bill Peters, who left the building to head north to the Calgary Flames, used an ineffective offensive system. In a piece called Carolina Hurricanes Most Crucial Need, I wrote that under Peters the team has consistently moved up in team Corsi, or shooting the puck. The problem was that the puck was not going into the net.

To illustrate this point about Thursday night’s play, Cody Hagan at Canes Country wrote, “Stop me if you have heard this before: the Canes completely dominated the game, far outshot their opponent, but failed to put the puck in the back of the net enough, only to lose in overtime. That, my friends, became the story that Bill Peters was known for during his tenure with the Hurricanes.”

During the preseason it looked like the team had turned the corner and had figured out how to score. Sadly, that was not the case on Thursday night.

Thomas Greiss - Islanders
Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Hurricanes blasted 46 shots at Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss and he handled 45 of them. Granted, several shots hit the post, especially a couple fired by second overall pick at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Andrei Svechnikov. The young gun is a special talent and after the game, Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said this about the rookie:

I see that I gotta get him out there more. You can see the confidence building since day one, training camp to now in the game. He wants the puck.

Svechnikov is a lot like Sebastian Aho in his willingness to shoot and his ability to do it well. Had Svechnikov made the two shots that hit the post perhaps this would be a different article.

The bottom line is that the Hurricanes shot and shot and shot some more and ended up with one goal for their efforts. Yes, Greiss was capable, at times brilliant. But, there wasn’t as much activity around the goal mouth on Friday night as we saw during the preseason and it’s not the preseason anymore. This is the real deal and Hurricanes fans are glad to have come away from their home opener with at least one point.

The play was a little sloppy by both teams. For the Hurricanes, we can acknowledge that there are a lot of new guys on the ice who are adjusting to the NHL and to their linemates. After the game, the Hurricanes television broadcast analyst Tripp Tracy said the Hurricanes are not just throwing pucks at the net like they did last year, but are getting bodies to the net, also. Perhaps this was the case but to the fans that came to the game hoping to see something new, losing 2-1 in overtime is very familiar and already old.